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> Before BigBelly, trash collectors had to clear out each can three times a day. Now they do so three times a week.

Living in center city Philadelphia, I can confidently say there are a couple unintended reasons these things may require less emptying: First, they're often so dirty that no one would want to grab the handle and open the door to throw trash in (I avoid them at all costs myself). Who wants to touch a trashcan even when it's clean? Second, if you're willing to grab the trash-encrusted handle and open the door, they're frequently jammed (or locked?) shut. On the few occasions where I was forced to use them because there were no other trashcans in sight, they were difficult or impossible to open.

So what do people do? They throw their trash on the ground, or they find a nearby trashcan that doesn't require contact to use. It's not unusual to see bags of trash sitting by these things with random garbage scattered around or on top of them.




I'm in complete agreement. These trash cans are a complete nuisance in the neighborhoods where they have been deployed. This is especially true in the high-traffic neighborhoods.

I lived at 3rd and South for a while both before and after these were deployed. The old cans were emptied once or twice a day by sanitation workers. Very often, those sanitation workers would also pick up trash off the street around the cans. When the Big Belly's were installed, they started coming around every other day or so instead. No one touches these things. People simply throw their trash at them and walk away. I once saw a Big Belly covered by a pile of trash near 5th and South.

I got really good at opening them with the heal of my shoe, or using a napkin. Very often, though, they were either jammed shut or stuffed full.

The city probably could have just stopped collecting trash altogether to achieve the same result and save even more money.


Fellow Philadelphian here. I agree entirely, these are terribly designed and I hardly ever see anyone use these. The fact that much of Philadelphia is covered with trash is a testament to the fact that these have done very little to alleviate the issue.

The primary issue with these is that they have a user interface that increases the friction and time of throwing things away. Having to walk up and grab the handle (which is usually disgusting), throw in your garbage, and then close it, adds a small, though significant enough amount of time that most people can't be bothered to do it (many Philadelphians just throw garbage on the street). Additionally, it is difficult to throw away larger amounts of trash or loads that would require two hands to dispose of.


This has certainly removed any lingering desire I might have had to visit Philadelphia.


Any philadelphians or visitors to philadelphia want to chime in? I want to visit it due to history and architecture.

Is the city center doing well, or decaying? I know some cities have vibrant cores but decaying inner peripheries. (i.e. between downtown and newer suburbs)


You should, it's a great place to visit. It has issues (crime, crappy transportation, etc) but as a visitor you should be able to mostly avoid those.


Philadelphia has a lot to offer, I'm from the suburbs of Philadelphia and I find myself going to the city almost every weekend. Lot's of great bars (especially on South Street), the Philadelphia museum of art, and all of the historical landmarks make it a great place to visit. Philadelphia also has a huge resurgence in biking, if you go to Philadelphia on a nice afternoon you'd be able to spot hundreds of bikers. It really isn't as bad as people make it out to be, just don't stray into the more crime riddled neighborhoods (North Philly, West Philly, Camden, etc.)


What killed my inclination to visit Philly was the Bill Burr rant (Google Bill Burr philadelphia incident). It may not be the same now, and that was a few years back, but just the thought that such a big crowd can be such jerks -- and I know the relative sample size is small and skewed (drunk) -- just destroyed my urge.

The big reason I wanted to visit was the history, and also (this might seem silly) because Bill Cosby is from there.


For the record that didn't happen in Philadelphia it happened in Camden NJ which is across the river. Clearly a lot of people in attendance were from Philly but they were also from NJ and other surrounding areas. Also it happened at an Opie and Anthony event, so you can imagine what sort of crowd was there.

It's also notable that they stopped doing those events at all because booing of new comedians was a general problem everywhere.

Philly does have a lot of problems, but it annoys me that we have a reputation as particularly bad crowds at sporting events etc based on a few notable incidents. If you look at basically any other city where large crowds of drunk obnoxious people congregate they have similar incidents.


If ever there was a city that deserved the Escape From New York "wall it off and write it off" treatment, it is Camden. Thankfully the Delaware River really does an effective job at keeping that rot at bay.

Philly really isn't that bad... though I suspect many HNers who are used to the shinier west coast cities would experience a bit of culture shock.


I wouldn't say Philly is going anywhere quickly at the moment, whether good or not. However it has excellent food, decent drinking and nightlife, and it's pretty close to both DC and NYC.


Don't let the goofy public trash cans discourage you--there are lots of good reasons to visit Philadelphia. In no particular order, Philadelphia has great bars and restaurants, especially great beer options, the Art Museum, the Rodin, the Barnes, the Kimmel Center, a vibrant Chinatown, the Italian Market (which morphs into a bit of Southeast Asian Market), and many quaint and historical places to walk.


I'm glad to hear that. I have to say I've been put off by Philadelphia sports fans more than anything else, but you've presented a more diverse and interesting picture of the city.


Agreed. I often wonder how much money in processing it costs them after people just throw their trash in 'hole' meant for bottles at the precariously available attached recycling bins.

I feel your pain, though, about just trying to find a bin - I'll walk blocks without finding one in some parts of the city.


What a bummer. I'm totally disillusioned now.




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